Perhaps as much as 50% of your success at bridge depends on your ability to keep your mind on the game. If you are not paying attention at all time, crucial details may escape your notice, like how many trump cards have been played.

Most of the mistakes an expert player makes are lapses in concentration, which he knows to avoid. The difference between the expert and the average player, however, is that the expert keeps his avoidable errors to a minimum.

     
     
     

There have been many published articles about the element of concentration, which is an action of the mind itself. How it works, functions, or becomes active is unknown. However, additional explanations might assist the bridge player and are included.

Concentration is the ability to sustain attention and to focus on particular target stimuli. Concentration is an important skill for most sports activities. It can be learned and improved by specific training. Athletes and players of many physical sport activities, for instance, play distraction games in which one person has to try to concentrate on performing a skill while others try to distract him or her.

A wide range of factors can affect concentration. Eating a heavy meal, very high levels of noise, and anxiety can reduce concentration. Scientists have determined that the morning hours are, at least for the majority of people, the best time to concentrate on complex tasks which rely on memory. It is difficult to sustain concentration at any time on tasks that are too simple, too complicated, or too repetitive. It is also difficult to sustain concentration over a longer, extended period of time.

Many well-known persons have commented on this feature of the mind and a few, more or less famous quotes are listed below, which represent their opinion about concentration, about attentiveness, about heedfulness.

Confessions of Professionals

It's shocking how little there is to do with tennis when you're just thinking about nothing except winning every point. - Andre Agassi, world tennis player.

Concentrate, play your game, and don't be afraid to win. - Amy Alcott, professional golfer.

Concentrate; put all your eggs in one basket, and watch that basket ... - Andrew Carnegie, businessman.

Concentration is my motto -- first honesty, then industry, then concentration. - Andrew Carnegie, founder of Carnegie Hall in New York, New York, United States.

By concentrating our attention on the effect rather than the causes, we can avoid the laborious, nearly impossible task of trying to detect and deflect the many psychological influences on liking. - Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology and author.

I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time ... - Charles Dickens, author.

The ability to concentrate and to use time well is everything. - Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler Corporation.

Concentration is the factor that causes the great discrepancy between men and the results they achieve... the difference in their power of calling together all the rays of their ability and concentrating on one point. - Orison Swett Marden, author.

Helpful Suggestions and Recommendations

These suggestions and guidelines have been authored by bridge experts along the way to assist the novice, the student, the learner of the game of bridge. They pass this advice on to them by contributing their wealth of knowledge.

Do not spend too much time on the easy hands.
Play somewhat in tempo, but avoid playing too hastily.
Study hands in advance that demand attention to details.
Save your mental energy by relaxing between hands during dealing.
Do not follow the dummy play like Mr. Eagle Eye. Relax and let partner play.
If a card is played or discarded unexpectedly, take a breath and re-think, recoup.
     

Advice From Omar Sharif

Following is an interview held by Amazon.co.uk with Mr. Omar Sharif.

Amazon.co.uk: How did you first become interested in bridge?
Omar Sharif: Making my first film in Egypt in 1954, I found myself with a lot of spare time waiting for the cameras to be ready. I found a dusty old book and read it. It happened to be about bridge. Had it been about fishing or gardening, I would have been a healthier, outdoor, tanned old man.
Amazon.co.uk: Which do you have the greater passion for, bridge or acting? Has this changed over time?
Omar Sharif: Acting of course. But it is easier to find good bridge partners than good scripts and directors.
Amazon.co.uk: What do you think your greatest achievement to date has been?
Omar Sharif: Still to come.
Amazon.co.uk: Do you find there are any common grounds between bridge and acting?
Omar Sharif: Both need concentration.
Amazon.co.uk: Are there any skills you have gained in one that have benefited the other?
Omar Sharif: Concentration.

Some Suggestions and Recommendations

1. There is no substitute for thinking clearly on your feet, with a fresh and alert mind.
2. Experience should help you make reasonable moves automatically, saving your concentration for the close decisions.
3. Think of several alternatives before choosing an action. The most immediate idea is not always best.
4. Let your plays speak for themselves; they don't have to be explained to anyone. Especially do not volunteer an explanation that nobody asked for.
5. In a disaster, get it over with and move on. Prolonging the agony will not help.
6. What if - discussions after a bad result (or even after a good result) usually waste more energy than they help. Stay fresh for the next problem. When someone has a disaster, just write down the score quietly and move on.
7. Take breaks between rounds. Real breaks. Talk about something else.
8. Fresh and relaxed beats tense and nervous.
9. Do not let emotion keep you from doing your best. But have enough emotional engagement to enjoy what you're doing.
10. Do the best you can with what you're given to work with. Do not focus on the things you do not have.
11. When you are the dummy and out of the play, relax and really rest. Save your mind for the times when it will matter.
12. Collect as much information as you can before committing to the most difficult decisions. Often the decision can become a sure thing given enough context.
13. Collect as much information as you can before committing to the most difficult decisions. Often the decision can become a sure thing given enough context.
14. Know more than you say.
15. Play steadily and don't give away anything in your manner.
16. Do your thinking before any crisis comes up, so you can handle it calmly.
17. Do not try to solve the crisis after it has already passed.

 


     
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